The Winter Of Mixed Drinks (March 1, 2010)
Indie Rock/Folk Rock
Frightened Rabbit it appears, have undergone quite an extensive transformation - not least one that has left their music sounding more stadium-ready than anything they've previously recorded, but also one that has left their morbid lyrical themes of 'death', 'drowning' and 'graveyards' for once not coated in equally so morbid music. This is not to say however that Frightened Rabbit have become a 'happy' band, one couldn't be further from the truth - but it is to say that a courageous step away from the subtle folk sounds of The Midnight Organ Fight has been taken. The Scots instead preclude their latest instalment with a selective showcase of rallying overdrive and Scottish post-folk arrangements reminiscent more so of the Twilight Sad than of the band's rather misleading first single 'Swim Until You Can't See Land'. The new album is suitably grand, with the strict structural hypothesis of verse and chorus which littered their last ignored in favour of extended instrumentals, manic percussion and repeated impassioned cries of Hutchinson's heavy accented vocals.
Perhaps the most upbeat track 'Nothing Like You' - is also the most unexpected. The revelation that "She was not the cure for cancer" meets a huge chorus around one minute in, and after a paced build up manages to destroy the reflective mood set by post-folk influenced six minute song Skip The Youth. The majority of the album tracks are adrenaline fuelled builders which slowly unleash the kind of musical energy that folk rarely manages to achieve. 'Not Miserable Now' is the finest of these; short and repetitive riffs emerging from a choral haze, quickly joined by a long and melancholy vocal line to create something close to the closing tracks of the last album.
Calling the third album more polished than its predecessors would be a needless insult to Frightened Rabbit's past, The Midnight Organ fight was as perfectly produced as any album of its time, and the idea of Frightened Rabbit's sound not being rugged at the edges and natural is almost unimaginable. But what The Winter of Mixed Drinks does do, is exhibit is a Frightened Rabbit with a light at the end of the tunnel, where their music has less limits and more unpredictability. Recorded once again with Peter Katis (The Arcade Fire, The National, The Twilight Sad), The Winter of Mixed Drinks is a strong, albeit not as strong as the last, attempt from a band whose following both sides of the Atlantic we should see increase exponentially in the coming months.
Frightened Rabbit - Not Miserable (MP3)
Frightened Rabbit - Nothing Like You (MP3)
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